This evening, thanks to Harry Knowles over at AICN.com, I was given the opportunity to see the much-hyped documentary “Catfish” this evening at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Austin.  The room was packed, the three guys who appear in the film were in attendance (and I wish I could tell you about the Q&A, were it not so spoileriffic to this film, which should be a crime to spoil for anyone), and the studio bought everyone an appetizer.  How sweet yet unnecessary.

No amount of chicken fingers were needed to get me to crow about this film, and crow about it I shall: “Catfish” is easily the best documentary I’ve seen this year (and before you ask, yeah, I see a lot).  A film that needs to be seen by absolutely everyone with a Facebook profile.  Or a MySpace account, or a PlentyofFish.com profile, or whatever else it is you kids are using to maintain human interaction these days.  God knows it ain’t goin’ outside.  Were you outside, I could tell you to get off my lawn.

“Catfish” tells the story of Neiv, a photojournalist who begins an odd, long-distance relationship with a girl named Megan.  The whole thing plays out across 1500 Facebook messages, texts, and phone calls over the course of 8 months, and for the first part of the movie– which you can glimpse in the trailer– Neiv’s more than happy to have made Megan’s acquaintance.  Hell, she seems like she might be Neiv’s perfect match.  And then– again, as you can see in the trailer– things start to get a little weird.

Saying any more about “Catfish” oughtta be criminalized.  If someone wants to tell you any more about the movie than I’ve just laid out in those previous paragraphs, use the wide side of your hand you chop them in the throat immediately and without mercy.  Stand over them, screaming, with your hands clamped down over your ears until they communicate to you in some way that they won’t say another word to you about this film until you’ve had a chance to see it.  Make them understand this, because it’s true: the less you know about this one, the better.

Because we can’t talk about plot, let’s instead note that everyone in the film– Neiv, plus his two documentarian pals that join him on his journey through the 100min “Catfish” runtime– are uniformally great to watch, and they don’t come across at all like the “douchebags” I’ve seen them called on other sites’ message boards.  If you’re getting douche-chills from these guys in the trailer, allow me to allay your fears: not a one is a douche, and I’ll stake my own douchiness on that statement.  Nor are they “exploiting” anyone, another claim that I’ve heard tossed around.

And while we can’t discuss plot, we can certainly discuss tone.  Last weekend, I saw “The Last Exorcism”, and I thought it was about 1% as “frightening” as anything in “Catfish”.  Though I’d be loathe to label the film a “horror film”– as some have unfairly done following the release of the film’s trailer (which is effective, if not slightly misleading to anyone that believes they’re wandering into a slasher movie)– I wouldn’t say it’s not scary, and I wouldn’t say I wasn’t scared watching it.  Two hours later, and I’ve still got knots in my stomach the size of your mother’s gooch.  Those are big knots, lemme tell ya.  You’ve seen that gooch; you know what I’m sayin’. 

Anyhow.

Most importantly, though, the movie isn’t “FAKE!!!1!!1″, a charge some have leveled at “Catfish”.  Whoever’s saying that bullshit clearly hasn’t seen the movie, and they deserve even more vicious treatment than the series of karate-chops you gave to the guy who tried to spoil the movie for you.  I’m here to tell you: “Catfish” isn’t interested in playing “The Last Exorcism”-style, mockumentary tricks on its audience.  This thing’s 100% real, and anyone that tells you otherwise is a fucktard.

It wasn’t made clear when the film would be put into wide release, and I really wish I could give everyone more details about the film than I’ve given here.  I suppose the idea here is this: tell enough people to see it, and once the movie hits, I’ll finally have someone to talk to about it.  The more people learn about it now, the more I’ll have to dissect the film with in the long run.  Please, for the love of God, take my advice: see “Catfish” when it opens near you.  You won’t be disappointed.

By the way, if you can find a showing that has a Q&A with the filmmakers and Neiv afterwards– as the screening tonight here in Austin did– by all means, attend that one.